Adrián Campos Jr believes his team had the pace to be fighting at the front of the field during the 2022 campaign, but their potential failed to materialise after a run of bad luck in Qualifying put them on the backfoot across several rounds this season.
Finishing eighth in the Teams’ Championship on 53 points, Campos Racing remain in the same position they ended the previous 2021 campaign in. Meanwhile, their three drivers – David Vidales, Hunter Yeany and Josep María Martí (also known as Pepe) all failed to break into the top 15. Their boss Campos Jr admitted that he felt the team underperformed, partially due to circumstances beyond their control.
“Honestly, we were expecting a lot more,” said Campos Jr. “In a Championship like this with 30 cars in Qualifying and it’s only 30 minutes long, a lot of things can happen. We know that in this Championship that if you don’t qualify at the front, your weekend is almost over.
“We had quite a lot of bad luck during Qualifying – from a Red Flag when we were crossing the finish line at the end of our laps or traffic in the last corner that destroyed the laps of two of our drivers. This meant that there was already three of our race weekends gone.
“It’s very difficult to face Qualifying in this Championship with 30 cars and knowing that you’re going to determine your weekend in these 30 minutes. I cannot tell a driver that he did a bad job when he gets a Red Flag in the last part of his lap or even when crossing the start-finish line when we on the data that it was a lap that would have got him onto the first five rows.
“In these areas, you also need to have good luck and to face Qualifying in a different way. You need to make sure you have set a decent lap before you are reaching the end of Qualifying. If not, you’ll probably have a Red Flag and have problems because you will need to start at the back for the races and then it’s very difficult to score points.
“I’m not happy looking at the Standings, but I’m quite happy looking at the performance. We saw that when we have a clear Qualifying, we are there and when we had new drivers come in without any experience, they were there straightaway. When the drivers don’t have any problems or bad luck, they could do a good weekend and fight at the front.”
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In his second season leading the team his late father founded over two decades ago, Campos Jr opted to field an all-rookie line-up – the youngest trio on the grid with the then 19-year-old Vidales alongside his 16-year-old teammates, all of whom experienced varying results.
After scoring points on his maiden Formula 3 weekend, Vidales went on to claim a memorable victory in the Barcelona Sprint Race on his and the team’s home soil. However, the second half of the year saw him facing disappointment on Fridays, only to fight his way back through into the points, including going from P18 to P7 and P8 respectively in Spa-Francorchamps.
For Martí, despite showing strong race pace, he was unable to crack into the top 10 in Qualifying until the season finale in Monza, which paved the way for him to claim his first points finish. Sadly for Yeany, a broken wrist sustained at the fifth round in Spielberg forced him to miss three of the final four rounds. In his stead, Campos drafted in Oliver Goethe and Sebastián Montoya, who both achieved impressive points finishes on debut.
“Since the beginning, I think the pace was quite there. At least in the races, the pace was, if not as good, then almost as good as the drivers that were fighting for the top five places in the races. However, we were just not starting at the front. Both David and Pepe were always making up positions.
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“We already knew going into the season that it was going to be very challenging, not only having three rookies, but also two of them being only 16 years old at the start of the year. With Hunter, he had the bad luck of injuring his wrist and that completely stopped his progression.
“We knew it was going to take time for Pepe, but by mid-season he already had the speed and potential to be, if not inside the top 10, then always very close to it. It took him awhile to score points until the last round in Monza, but the performance was already enough to do it a lot earlier that’s for sure.
“Regarding David, he was a driver that we were expecting a lot more from, but if we look back and see everything that happened during each weekend, I’m sure that if he’d had clear Qualifying sessions and a bit of better luck, he would have very easily been fighting for the top five in the Championship. That’s what we were missing, the driver that we were expecting better results from couldn’t make it happen.”
“I remember David made up something like 30 positions during both races in Imola. Then in Spa, after starting towards the back, he crossed the line P7 in both races and finished in the points, even after having a penalty in the second race. It was the same with Pepe, he was always making up positions.
“As they were starting out of their real places, sometimes they were fighting each other too much, but’s that’s something we can’t get into because they are racers – they want to be the best and they’re both Spanish, so they want to be the best Spanish driver. We just need give them the best tools and they will need to put the rest out on track.”
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As thoughts turn to the 2023 season, Campos Jr says he’s valuing experience behind the wheel and continuity behind the scenes, as he sets his sights on giving the frontrunning pack a run for their money in the battle for the Championship next year.
“The first thing is that we’re looking to not have three rookies because we know how challenging it is. We’re looking to have at least two drivers that are in their second year. Then from there, we’re going to keep working as we are doing, try to give the team a lot of stability and don’t make big changes in the team.
“It’s always good to make some changes, you always need to adapt and take a few steps back in order to go and improve. From our side, I would like to keep the same personnel as much as possible and work very hard with the new drivers. We will try to have drivers with a bit more experience that last year and I think that will make a difference.
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“At this point, I can’t say something different than going to fight for the Championship – if not, we would not be here. I know that there will probably be some other drivers that will be very challenging to beat, but we will still do our best and show that we are ready for it. We will try to give a very hard time to the rest of the grid and try to fight for the top spots all year, having a lot of consistency during all the races to not just be in front in some of them.”